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Nadal awesome as Murray motors through in Melbourne

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 , Posted by Linda at 10:41 AM

MELBOURNE – Spanish world number one Rafael Nadal began his Australian Open in awesome fashion on Tuesday while Andy Murray enjoyed the easiest of starts to his quest for a first Grand Slam title.

Nadal awesome as Murray motors through in Melbourne Spain's Rafael Nadal plays a stroke during his men's singles match against Christophe Rochus

Last year's runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga led a parade of seeds into round two but Australian hopes took a hit as Lleyton Hewitt crashed out in his worst result since 2002.

The new-look Nadal, who replaced his usual vest and baggy pants with T-shirt and above-knee shorts, destroyed Belgium's Christophe Rochus in the mismatch of round one.

Rochus was unable to get on the scoreboard until the ninth game as Nadal dismissed any concerns about his ongoing knee problems to win 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 17 minutes.

Nadal is starting his first season ranked top as he bids to add a maiden Australian Open title to his Wimbledon and French Open crowns.

"I'm just trying to improve and be humble because every match is different," he told the crowd.

"I'm very happy because I'm over the injury and at one of the greatest tournaments in the world."

Earlier Murray was handed his first-round win when Romania's Andrei Pavel retired with a long-standing back injury and later quit tennis for good.

"Obviously you don't want to finish a match like that. Andrei's been having problems with his back for a year," said the world number four, who is seeking Britain's first Grand Slam win in 73 years.

"It's unfortunate he had to stop but I felt like I was hitting the ball well."

American James Blake overcame dogged resistance from Canadian qualifier Frank Dancevic, as Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet completed a good day for France.

"You can't get a much more exciting three-setter," Blake said. "It was a little too exciting but he played some great tennis."

Hewitt's comeback from injury stalled but he produced some typically battling tennis in a five-set defeat to Fernando Gonzalez.

The former number one refused to contemplate retirement and insisted he was on track for a return to the top 10.

"He's a tough player to play against for anyone, even the best guys like Roger (Federer), Rafa (Nadal), purely because he wants to play on his terms," Hewitt said.

French livewire Tsonga electrified Melbourne Park with his run to last year's final and he was again impressive winning 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 against Juan Monaco, shrugging off a recent back injury.

"I try to play my best every time -- I just try to be as good as I can be," he said.

Radek Stepanek, Ivo Karlovic, Igor Andreev and Nicolas Almagro were the other seeds through along with Jurgen Melzer, who killed off Japanese prodigy Kei Nishikori.

"No, I didn't have any pressure because, of course, he's good and he's seeded. I just didn't play well today," Nishikori said.

In the other half of the draw, three-time winner Roger Federer plays Russian Evgeny Korolev while defending champion Novak Djokovic faces Jeremy Chardy of France.

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